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Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Preclinical in vivo validation of predicted drug targets and treatment outcomes

University Pompeu Fabra
Laboratory of Neuropharmacology-Neurophar
Program in Genetics and Neurosciences
Department of Experimental and Health Sciences
PRBB Building
c/ Doctor Aiguader, 88
08003 Barcelona
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Team Leader

Prof. Dr. Rafael Maldonado

Medical Doctor & Professor
Phone: +34 933 160 824
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Team Staff

Dr. Beltrán Alvarez

Phone: +34 933 160 823
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Jolita Jancyte

NeuroPhar Laboratory Project Manager
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Institute Presentation

The Laboratory of Neuropharmacology (NeuroPhar) was founded by Rafael Maldonado in 1998 in the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (CEXS) of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and is located in the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB). NeuroPhar has more than 200 m2, with complete infrastructure in conventional laboratories in pharmacology, histochemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology, as well as specific laboratories for behavioural studies with animal models. The PRBB offers also a modern animal house and an array of scientific-technical services, including, among others, genomics, proteomics, confocal microscopy and imaging techniques. There are now 35 persons working in the laboratory, of which 30 are scientists (12 hold a PhD) and 5 are technicians.

Within the QSPainRelief project, NeuroPhar is responsible for the preclinical in vivo pain and addiction models with analgesics and will perform animal behavioural studies owing to NeuroPhar’s large background in the study of pain processing in the body, particularly the processing of neuropathic pain.

NeuroPhar’s main mission and interest is the development of research lines aimed at the identification of new therapeutic targets at the nervous system level. The pathologies in which our work is focused are drug addiction, cognitive disorders, affective disorders, chronic pain and eating disorders. NeuroPhar studies the neurobiological substrate of drug addiction, pain, affective and eating disorders. Our main interest is the development of research lines aimed at the identification of new therapeutic targets in the central nervous system. We are interested in the neurochemical and neuroanatomical bases of addiction induced by opioids, cannabinoids, nicotine and psychostimulants. In our studies we address:

  • Possible physical aspects of drug dependence
  • Motivational components leading to the abusive consumption of such substances

A dual approach is defined as follows:

  • A classical pharmacological strategy using compounds able to block or activate the different receptors or intracellular signalling systems
  • Genetically modified mice lacking a particular receptor or protein

We are also working in the participation of the endogenous opioid and cannabinoid systems in the physiopathology of mood disorders. Several sophisticated behavioural models for anxiety and depression, as well as cutting-edge biochemical and molecular biology techniques, allow the in vivo correlation of behavioural and biochemical responses. The role of the endocannabinoid system in chronic pain and eating disorders is a topic of growing interest in our laboratory. Several well-established behavioural models of chronic pain (neuropathic, visceral, and inflammatory pain) and food intake, together with genetic and biochemical approaches help in elucidating the role of this endogenous system in such pathophysiological situations.

Research lines:

  • Intracellular signalling associated with the endocannabinoid system in the CNS
  • Nicotine dependence mechanisms
  • The neurobiological substrate of addiction, pain and eating disorders
  • Neurobiology of chronic pain